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Parkinson's disease: breakthrough in the production of dopamine neurons

The first transplantation of stem cells in patients with Parkinson's disease is almost within reach. However, it remains a challenge for researchers to control stem cells accurately in the lab in order to achieve successful and functional stem cell therapies for patients.

In the preclinical assessments of stem cell-derived dopamine neurons researchers noticed that the outcome in animal models varied dramatically, even though the cells were very similar at the time of transplantation.

Now, the experiments have used modern global gene expression studies to better understand the path from a stem cell to a dopamine neuron.
The data has been generated in close collaboration with a team of researchers at Karolinska Institute, and is closely linked with a second study from the same cluster of researchers.
The second study sheds new light on how dopamine neurons are formed during development, and what makes them different from other similar and neighbouring neurons.

This new insight has enabled a streamlined differentiation process resulting in pure populations of dopamine neurons of high quality.

Researchers have identified a specific set of markers that correlate with high dopaminergic yield and graft function after transplantation in animal models of Parkinson's disease.
Guided by this information, researchers have developed a better and more accurate methods for producing dopamine cells for clinical use in a reproducible way.

The new results, published in two articles in the Cell Stem Cell, propel stem cell therapy for Parkinson's disease towards clinical application. ( Xagena )

Source: Lund University, 2016